Packing and Travel Tips

Participants are allowed a maximum of one piece of carry-on luggage. Checked baggage is filled with donated items. Check with the airline to determine the parameters and restrictions for carry-on luggage and pack accordingly. Below is a list of required and suggested items to pack accompanied by some useful travel tips.

Must have:

  • Itineraries and passport
  • ONE debit/credit card (Visa is best; Master Card also okay)
  • Shoes: presentable close-toed walking shoes and sandals
  • Clothing: light, breathable, easy to wash/dry by hand. No revealing clothing such as short shorts or low-cut tank tops (cleavage is not acceptable). Clean, neat, casual for most days, though at least one nicer outfit for meetings. Polo or button-up shirt or blouse with cotton slacks/skirt will be fine.
  • Color copy of your passport
  • Health and travel insurance contact information
  • Food for the first day of travel

Highly Suggested:

  • A copy of your health records and list of allergies
  • Contact info for relatives and friends you wish to be in touch with
  • Contact info for all credit or debit cards brought with you
  • Spending money in small bills (for souvenirs, internet cafe etc.) and emergency cash
  • Sturdy water bottle
  • Small flashlight (electricity is unreliable in Nicaragua)
  • Sunglasses and sun hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent containing 30-50 percent DEET
  • Alarm and earplugs if needed
  • Camera and accessories
  • Assortment of plastic bags as needed for packing
  • Fanny pack or small wearable bag for essentials
  • Tissues (No guarantee that every bathroom will have toilet paper)
  • Usual daily toiletries
  • Personal prescriptions in original containers and/or other essential over-the-counter medications
  • Extra pair of prescription eyeglasses, contact lenses and contact solution (if applicable)
  • Power sources for any electronics. Back-up batteries (more expensive there)
  • A sink stopper and Woolite for hand washing (laundry facilities are not readily accessible)


  • Swimsuit
  • Washcloth (hotels have towels only)
  • Power bars, peanut butter, crackers, nuts, snacks
  • Pocket knife (in checked bags)
  • Notebook, journal, guidebook, travel dictionary or electronic translator
  • Calculator (to convert currency from Córdobas to dollars)
  • Light rain jacket with hood
  • Personal pillowcase

Other notes:

  • Do NOT bring your state ID or drivers license
  • You may want to coordinate with others in your group (e.g. John brings peptobismol if Jake brings antacids; Jane brings a hairdryer, Julie brings the travel guidebook)


Weather conditions in the winter in Nicaragua range from warm (80s to 90s and dry) to cool (low 70s) and rainy. Check the Nicaraguan weather forecast for the cities where you plan to stay for a few weeks prior to travel and pack accordingly.


  • Travelers checks do NOT work well in Nicaragua
  • Bring some spending money with you in small American bills in good condition ($1.00 and $5.00). Ripped or wrinkled bills are not accepted in many countries.
  • If you bring a debit card, inform your bank that you will be out of country. Some banks question or deny access if they see atypical activity on your card. Check the limit allowed per withdrawal per day on your debit card to be informed of how much cash you can get on any given day.
  • Credit cards are often not accepted at small establishments so bring some cash in American dollars, including some small denominations. Outlying areas cannot always give change for a twenty.
  • The currency in Nicaragua is the Córdoba. Dollars are also accepted and change is given in córdobas . Find the current exchange rate at: Exchange

Food and Water

  • Avoid eating fresh fruits and vegetables unless you are sure that they have been washed in clean/treated water. This is the number one cause for traveler diarrhea. Also avoid drinks made with water and ice unless you know the water and ice is safe.
  • Always drink bottled water and use bottled water to brush your teeth.

Establishing Rapport With Elders

Consider bringing family photos (avoid photos that give the appearance of wealth). Brush up on names of family members in Spanish. Consider bringing a small U.S.A. map to show elders where you live. Talk of home and family is a good way to make a friend.